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The Democratic Party is set to name its first undocumented 'Dreamer' superdelegate

Ellie Pérez, of Arizona, will be the first undocumented person to cast a ballot for a presidential nominee in a primary contest. The announcement by the Democratic leadership comes at a critical time for Dreamers as the clock runs out in March for an Obama-era program that protects them from deportation.
18 Oct 2017 – 08:46 PM EDT
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Ellie Perez speaks at an event for 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Crédito: Democratic National Committee

A 26-year-old Dreamer, Ellie Pérez, will be chosen Saturday as one of 75 new national delegates for the Democratic Party during its fall meeting which began Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Pérez, who is Mexican-born, will be able to vote as a superdelegate in the party's 2020 convention to nominate the Democratic presidential candidate, the highest any undocumented person has risen in the presidential election process.

Pérez's selection comes at a critical time for Dreamers after President Donald Trump's decision in September to end DACA, the executive order signed by Barack Obama that protects from deportation those undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Dreamers now need Congress to approve legislation before March to avoid being deported.

"It's really exciting and a big responsibility," Pérez told Univision News about her role in the election of the party's next presidential candidate.

The new 75 superdelegates will serve on the DNC for a four-year term and participate in the quarterly party summits with party members who are delegates by virtue of their status as elected officials.

“Dreamers are our friends and neighbors and are essential members of their communities. We would be proud to have Ellie as one of our national delegates, who will be part of the process of choosing our next Democratic candidate for President," said DNC spokesperson Francisco Pelayo.

The new list of superdelegates stands out for its diversity, with a transgender, 17 Latinos and several Native Americans, in addition to Pérez. The party is seeking to underline how it differs from the far less diverse Republican Party.

"This says a lot about the direction that the party is heading towards inclusion," the young immigrant said, though she added; "Democrats still have a long way to go to introduce diversity into the conversation."

Pérez, born in Veracruz, Mexico, came to Arizona with her parents when she was four years old. She became involved in politics through immigration activism during protests against that's state's draconian law SB1070, which came under fire for racial profiling. The law sought to require immigrants to carry their documents at all times, and show them on the slightest suspicion.

In 2012, thanks to DACA, she began working as an advisor for Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego. She also worked for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016 and participated as a page at the Philadelphia National Democratic Convention.


The list of independent super delegates was presented by the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, who in February became the first Latino elected to lead this body at the top of the party. The list will be voted on at the meeting that began on Wednesday and will run until Saturday.

Superdelegates enjoy greater independence than state delegates who are generally expected to vote for the candidate chosen in their state primary.

According to a source close to the DNC, chair Perez made a "historic" choice to present a list that truly reflected the diversity of the party.

The 75 delegates proposed by Perez, who was Labor Secretary in the Obama administration, will double the representation of certain minority groups that Democrats have traditionally included in their coalition.

"The list of nominated delegates this year reflects the unprecedented diversity of the Democratic coalition, for example by doubling millennial representation, increasing LGBTQ membership, and including for the first time in history an undocumented youth," said Francisco Pelayo, the DNC's spokesman for Hispanic media.

Pelayo added that the representation of Puerto Rico would also be increased "at a time when the Trump administration refuses to take responsibility for the millions of Americans who continue to suffer from a major humanitarian crisis."

There are a total of 17 Latinos from various states, including Lily Eskeleson Garcia of Utah, who chairs the National Teachers Association; Emmy Ruiz of Texas, who was instrumental in Clinton's victories in Nevada and Colorado and is a member of the LGBTQ community; and Leopoldo Martinez, of Virginia, a Venezuelan-American who chairs the Board of Directors of Latino Victory Project, the group co-founded by actress Eva Longoria.

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